Thursday, July 19, 2012

Lucia Sexual harassment by atheists at conferences

So it seems that less women are attending an atheist gathering in Las Vegas, some of whom are not going because of the amount of unwanted sexual attention they get at these sorts of conferences.

(RNS) As skeptics, atheists and humanists prepare to gather for their largest meeting in Las Vegas this weekend, attendance by women is expected to be down significantly.

Officials for The Amazing Meeting, or TAM, said Wednesday (July 11) that women would make up 31 percent of the 1,200 conference attendees, down from 40 percent the year before. A month before the conference, pre-registration was only 18 percent women, organizers said.

The explanations are many -- the bad economy, that women, as caregivers, are less able to get away, and that more men than women identify as skeptics, whose worldview rejects the supernatural and focuses on science and rationality.

But in the weeks preceding TAM, another possible explanation has roiled the nontheist community. Online forums have crackled with charges of sexism in TAM’s leadership and calls for the ouster of D.J. Grothe, the male president of the James Randi Educational Foundation, TAM’s organizer. In June, Rebecca Watson, a skeptic blogger and speaker, canceled her TAM appearance because, she said on her blog, she does “not feel welcome or safe.”

Other nontheists -- both male and female -- have shared stories of unwanted sexual attention at nontheist gatherings, including propositions for sex and unwelcome touching. Chatter has ranged from calls for more women to attend nontheist events to personal attacks on prominent female skeptics for discussing harassment. Meanwhile, two more skeptic/feminist bloggers announced they will not attend TAM.

It's probably best if I don't give my opinion on why this would be.

Related link: Do atheists have a sexual harassment problem

26 comment(s):

KG said...

"James Randi Educational Foundation"?
Well, what else did they expect? :-)

Lucia Maria said...

KG, I didn't notice that! LOL

leftrightout said...

Oh! My! Gosh!

Who would have expected that a gathering of people would show some of them in a less than favourable light?

Of course, while idiots think plays on words suffice for intelligent debate, the atheists involved have not hushed this up, have not swept it under the carpet, have not transferred people from one district to another. They have simply got on with being the good humanists they are and addressed the problem.

There is a lesson here for other organisations, methinks.

Ciaron said...

When you say addressed the problem is that code for forcing ones views (or morals) onto another?

As we know the atheist in chief Richard Dawkins holds the position that there no objective moral values and it follows from that statement that each agent is free to do as the agent sees fit. Under this scenario each agent's morals are unique and equally valid. Even if there is consensus on some moral values, this is ultimately the imposition of the values of some onto the whole. Surely, to be a consistent atheist one simply has to accept that others have differing moral values that are no less worthless than one own, and that may entail tolerating behaviour that runs contrary to ones own self-determined set of values?

Lucia Maria said...

Many years ago, I was one of a couple of women that attended a conference on a new computer software release for developers of about 500-1000 men or so (Can't remember the exact numbers, it was in 1995). I think there was only one other woman there, but there may have been one or two more. I think it was a two day conference.

Anyway, no one hit on me or sexually harassed me. At all.

Psycho Milt said...

As we know the atheist in chief Richard Dawkins holds the position that there no objective moral values and it follows from that statement that each agent is free to do as the agent sees fit.

You were doing OK up until "it follows from that statement," because the rest doesn't follow from that statement.

leftrightout said...

ciaron, there is no "atheist in chief"; we don't need a pope or bishops, we don't need leaders, we are just who we are.

As to morals, well there are a variety of people making up the broad grouping atheist, just as there are in any collection of humans. As a humanist atheists I have no problem deciding what is right and wrong, and in defending right and opposing wrong.

Furthermore, outside religious discussion, there is no need for the term "morals" at all; it is a religious construct.

leftrightout said...

wow Lucia, your best argument ever. You once went to one conference and no one hit on YOU, therefore no woman ever goes to a conference and gets hit on.

Well, how's this. I know a catholic priest. He has never buggered the altar boys, therefore no catholic priest ever buggers the altar boys.

Lucia Maria said...

I thought it was pretty good.

Seriously, though, I took up martial arts many years ago because of sexual harassment, which was worse in NZ than Australia, where this conference that I went to was.

The only other times I ever felt unsafe as a woman was among Muslims.

Haven't experienced an atheist conference yet, but, if I ever were to go to one, I'd take a crucifix and holy water.

Ciaron said...

ciaron, there is no "atheist in chief"; we don't need a pope or bishops, we don't need leaders, we are just who we are.

Are you for real! Are there not legions of people who desciple (for no other word describes their devotion to the teachings of their masters) themselves to likes of Dawkins, Hitchens, et al?

leftrightout said...

Yes, am for real.

There are no disciples of these men, for we are always ready to challenge them, and they expect to BE challenged. There is no "holy writ".

However, Dawkins is an exceptioanlly good writer and a clear communicator of science. I am so looking forward to reading his "Magic of Reality" to my grandchildren when they are a little older and better able to understand. Then,when they are older again I will introduce them to Carl Sagan's "Cosmos", unless a better work appears in the meantime.

This is what it means to be a humanist, an atheist, a freethinker; to read, to learn, to understand and to develop the foundations for an enquiring and questioning mind.

And that, my friend, is the antithesis of what it means to be a disciple.

leftrightout said...

If I have a book to serve as my understanding, a pastor to serve as my conscience, a physician to determine my diet for me, and so on, I need not exert myself at all. I need not think, if only I can pay; others will readily undertake the irksome task for me.

Ciaron said...

Milt said: You were doing OK up until "it follows from that statement," because the rest doesn't follow from that statement.

ever heard of Jean-Paul Sartre?

Ciaron said...

Or Bertrand Russell?

Ciaron said...

Or Dr. L.D. Rue?

leftrightout said...

Surely, to be a consistent atheist one simply has to accept that others have differing moral values that are no less worthless than one own, and that may entail tolerating behaviour that runs contrary to ones own self-determined set of values?

Once again, reality comes crashing in to show the stupidity, the ignorance and the lack of compassion that can only infect a religious mind.

14 people dead, many more wounded. It is a tragedy and a travesty. I need no god or priest to tell me that this is wrong, all I need is my humanity.

For the christians, however,it is always an opportunity to spout crap! The best comment from a Christian is "People say … where was God in all of this?” Gohmert said. “We’ve threatened high school graduation participations, if they use God’s name, they’re going to be jailed … I mean that kind of stuff. Where was God? What have we done with God? We don’t want him around. I kind of like his protective hand being present.”

And this cannot be written off as the rant of an outsider, a nutter or "not a real Christian. These are the actual, unedited words of Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).

Now, find me a humanist who would react in such a contemptible manner.

Isumbras said...

Leftrightout your grandchildren are in for a rare treat aren't they.... indoctrination from a young age with all the pompous certitude of Dickie Dawkins....

As for the "lack of compassion that can ONLY infect a religious mind".... really, you're going with that?

Speaking of stupidity and ignorance, your statement would take some beating...

Who knew Lavrentiy Beria and all those fun atheist guys were such compassionistas... I suppose a neck shot is more compassionate than being rolled in a barrel studded with nails...oh wait....the Cheka did do that to.... oh well then, that all those hospitals, hospices and orphanages around the world run by religious organizations where just a cynical plot to make everyone think they were compassionate.

Psycho Milt said...

ever heard of Jean-Paul Sartre?

An ability to name well-known philosophers doesn't turn a non-sequitur into a logical conclusion.

Ciaron said...

Taking Nietzsche's position of God's death as given, Sartre denied that there are any objective values or meanings to be discovered. Rather each person is free to invent for himself whatever values and purposes he chooses.

The question of consistency arises when one considers that Sartre struggled to reconcile the liberalism outlined above with his opposition to Nazi anti-Semitism. For if his liberal position is correct, then anything is rightly permissable.

What do you thing of Albert Camus' position that: Since there is no God, life is absurd. He also said life was not merely meaningless but twisted and cruel and that suicide was the only serious philosophical question. I'd like your thoughts on this.

Psycho Milt said...

My thoughts on it are that French philosophers are as capable of stupidity as anyone else. The idea that "each person is free to invent for himself whatever values and purposes he chooses" is disproved by even the most casual encounters with everyday reality (if you doubt this, picture deciding for yourself one day that a friendly and appropriate response to others' greetings will be to punch them in the face), so if Sartre really did believe that it's no wonder he had difficulty reconciling it with the evidence of his own senses.

The non sequitur arises from assuming it's an either/or situation - either morality is an objective constant rather like gravity, or it's entirely a matter of individual opinion. There is actually a range of options - for example, that humans tend to have a basic shared morality not because God ordained it thus but because we evolved as social animals, or that one consequence of self awareness is empathy, or both. No doubt there are others - the point is, there isn't a simple dichotomy between "God says do this" and "every man for himself."

Ciaron said...

Right, I see you subscribe to the "Noble Lie".

Psycho Milt said...

If any view of this falls under the heading of a noble lie, it would be the one in which morality must exist independently of people because an entity outside the universe built the universe like that.

Lucia Maria said...

Psycho,

But what if it were true?

Have you ever really tried to find out if it were true, or are you just assuming it's a lie?

Psycho Milt said...

I don't assume it's a lie, I just find it less likely than the more mundane explanations that Ciaron considers a "Noble Lie."

leftrightout said...

Ciaron, what IYHO, are "objective values"?

Ciaron said...

An objective value is one that is real or true independant of anyone's opinion about it.

BTW, the "Noble Lie" comes from Dr L.D. Rue, who made an address to the American academy for the advancement of science in 1991:

A lie that deceives us, tricks us, compels us beyond self-interest, beyond ego, beyond family, nation, [and] race. "It is a lie, because it tells us that the universe is infused with value (which is a great fiction), because it makes a claim to universal truth (when there is none), and because it tells us not to live for self-interest (which is evidently false). `But without such lies, we cannot live.'"(21) This is the predicament of modern man; either he lives honestly without hope of significance, or he creates a lie that gives a veneer of meaning.

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